Huskies Insider Blog

Know your enemy: Nick Foles helping with Arizona's offensive game plan

With Andrew Luck of Stanford, Matt Barkley at USC, Darron Thomas at Oregon and even now Keith Price, Arizona quarterback Nick Foles gets a little overlooked by the media and fans. It seems a little strange since Foles leads the Pac 12 in passing at 363 yards per game. He also attempted more passes (320) and completed more (227) than anyone else. That's a 70.9 completion percentage. While people will sit and say that Foles only throws short passes, it's instructive to point out that Foles' average yards per pass attempt of 7.9 is actually ahead of Barkley (7.8).

Now under interim Tim Kish, who has basically turned over the offense to offensive coordinator Seth Littrell and quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo, Foles was allowed to 13 of the Wildcats' first 18 plays against UCLA.

The UA's senior captain scripted 13 of the Wildcats' first 18 plays in Thursday's 48-12 win over UCLA at Arizona Stadium. He did so well, leading the UA to two touchdowns and 156 yards of offense, that coaches have asked him to do it again this week against Washington.

Foles, who played arguably the best half of his college career against UCLA, says he enjoys the added responsibility. Nobody on the team knows the offense better than Foles, who has completed 227 of 320 passes for 2,546 and 18 touchdowns this season.

"I know what the team likes, I know what I like and, studying the defense, I know what's good," he said. "Any quarterback can tell you: You want to run plays that you enjoy running."From Anthony Gimino at the Tucson Citizen is this story about Arizona rejuvenating it's running game. It had been basically non-existent at times this season.

Consider: UA had topped 100 rushing yards only once this season, and the 254 yards were nearly double the previous season high of 129, set against USC.

“We were just amped up,” said running back Taimi Tutogi.

“We wanted to get those yards. And we did it. The holes that opened up, opened up perfectly. All together, it wasn’t too bad.”

Arizona has increasingly discovered its running game throughout the first seven games after it was slow to use the full-house “bone” formation it worked on during spring practice and fall camp.

Having three backs along with quarterback Nick Foles in the shotgun formation has given the Wildcats a more physical presence and allowed for better pass protection. With three running backs occupying defender’s attention, Arizona’s two wide receivers in the formation have a better chance of getting single coverage.The suspensions of four defensive backs, including starter Shaq Richardson, is causing some issues for the Wildcats. Cortez Johnson, a freshman from New Orleans, who has been battling post-concussion syndrome will likely make his first career start on Saturday.

The 6-foot-2-inch, 190-pound Johnson is expected to start for Richardson, though Derrick Rainey could be used if the Wildcats decide to play three linebackers instead of a nickel back. Both must stay healthy. Kish said Monday that he will move a few offensive skill players - he declined to say who - to defense for the week, in case the Wildcats are strapped for personnel in the first half. Brown could replace Johnson in the second half, or Watley could play safety with Robert Golden moving to cornerback.